Mount Dulang-Dulang

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

My heart was racing. Anxious and nervous, beads of sweat formed on my forehead, and my mouth turned dry. Shit! Will I make it? Will I make it back home in time? I was in a race against time, and I was losing. These thoughts hammered into my head as we were heading to Davao City after our Mount Dulang-Dulang climb.

The unforgiving slopes, slippery moss, and rocky steps of Mount Dulang-Dulang were behind me.

But the race against time continued, and a new challenge was waiting. 

As we navigated through the night, we were enveloped in a thick fog that reduced visibility to nearly zero.

We had to slow down because every twist and turn was a gamble and a slow dance with the unseen. 

One false move here might be our last.

To ease my anxiety, I checked my phone and replayed every moment of our climb, from the enchanted Avatar mossy forest to the majestic sunrise. 

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

And despite the mesmerizing beauty I had witnessed, my mind was fixated on the present challenge.

I wondered if I’d make it to the airport in time for my flight home.

Did I make it back in time?

My Mount Dulang-Dulang Adventure

Day 0 at around 4:35 PM

What’s the worst part of being a Filipino?

Is it our complex political landscape filled with greedy politicians?

Maybe it’s the struggle with limited opportunities for professional growth, the relentless traffic congestion, or the weight of social expectations. 

For me, though, the greatest challenge lies in our geographical fate: living in a land prone to natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons. 

And guess what?

We experienced them firsthand during our climb to Mount Dulang-Dulang (also called D2 by local mountaineers).

A week before our hike, reports of an impending typhoon in the southern Philippines had me on edge.

Fortunately, it was downgraded to a Low-Pressure Area a few days before our hike.

And the challenges didn’t end there.

While taking a pit stop in Bukidnon, we felt the earth tremble beneath us.

An earthquake.

And this was no ordinary earthquake.

It was classified as quite strong and mainly affected South Cotabato and General Santos City.

But we’re Filipinos.

We’re resilient and have adapted to our country’s never-ending natural disasters.

Nothing was stopping us from climbing Mount Dulang-Dulang, the second-highest mountain in the Philippines.

These are adversities and stumbling blocks.

We could overcome them.

Day 0 at 11:02 AM 

Sometimes, I wonder if I’m cursed when it comes to major climbs.

Every time I climb a towering and challenging mountain, there’s something wrong with me.

I couldn’t remember the last time I was a hundred percent healthy on a major climb.

On my Mount Hamiguitan and Mount Amuyao hikes, I was sleepless, stressed out, and even had diarrhea.

For this hike?

I hadn’t slept the previous night and had a nasty dry cough.

I guess that’s what happens when you’re overworked and underf*cked.

I didn’t feel good, but it’s much better than having diarrhea or hyperacidity.

From our meetup at Jollibee Ulas in Davao, we traveled to Bukidnon, passing some enticing views and landscapes.

And at about 4 PM, my phone rang and notified me of a natural disaster near the area.


Another freaking earthquake.

Soon, videos about the earthquake surfaced online.

What would happen to our Mount Kitanglad hike?

Qué Sera Sera!

Day 0 at 6:01 PM

Every climb in Mount Dulang-Dulang, whether a day hike, overnight stay, or traverse to Mount Kitanglad, starts with a tribal ritual.

It involves cleansing and sacrificing live chickens to the guardians and Gods residing in D2.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

Some devoted people, ranging from Christians to Muslims, find themselves uneasy with these rituals.

But I don’t see anything wrong with it.

I’m not a super religious person, and I have an open mind when it comes to spirituality. 

As I’ve mentioned in my short story “A Hike with the Devil”, religions are often dividing us and limiting our perspective.

Aside from the ritual, the head guide of Mount Dulang-Dulang also gave a quick breakdown of the dos and don’ts of the hike.

Then, we had a hearty dinner and went to bed to prepare for the tough climb to the top of D2.

Getting ready for our next day’s hike, I bumped into some fascinating hikers.

And you know what?

They were all like me – tired, overworked, seeking a break. 

Some veteran hikers think people climb mountains these days to rack up likes on Instagram or snag that viral TikTok clip. 

But I see it differently.

Through my mountain adventures, I’ve met a kaleidoscope of hikers, young and old.

And here’s the thing.

They’re not chasing applause and Facebook likes.

Hiking, for us, is food for the soul.

It’s our escape from the endless city buzz, our way to break free from life’s dull routines. 

We scale the highest mountains in the Philippines not for show but for the sheer, exhilarating thrill of it.

Day 1 at 5:51 AM: The start of our hike to Mount Dulang-Dulang

Everyone is geared up to climb the second-highest mountain in the Philippines.

After a quick orientation by sir JM of Boundless Adventure Tours, we began our hike to the top of Mount Dulang-Dulang.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

While I did get a good night’s sleep, I still wasn’t in tip-top shape.

And with its seemingly endless assault, I knew this hike would kick me in the ass.

But would I trade my challenging D2 hike for a day of Zoom meetings, Slack messages, spreadsheets, and Google documents?

Hell no!

I’m not going to lie.

I struggled in the first part of the hike to Mount Dulang-Dulang.

The trail was moderately flat, easy, and wide.

But as a slow starter, I was still recalibrating and finding my rhythm and balance.

And besides, I was carrying a heavy 15-kilogram backpack.

I was also coughing along the hike.

Thankfully, the heavenly views and fresh mountain air were helping my body adjust to the pace and hike.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

Still, there was a question lingering in my mind.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

Will I survive the hike to one of the tallest mountains in the Philippines?

Day 1 at 08:11 PM: 4 kilometers to the summit of Mount Dulang-Dulang 

I’m a Filipino, and I’m resilient.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

Centuries of resistance and hardships caused by foreign colonization have ingrained a sense of resilience in our psyche.

Moreover, regularly facing and recovering from natural disasters like volcanic erupts, earthquakes, and typhoons has made us stronger.

I always use this mantra whenever I struggle or when the inner demons in my head start talking.

And it has helped me survive the first part of the hike amid all the inconveniences.

Finally, my body adjusted, and the hike became more manageable.

With D2’s enchanting forest, I was mesmerized and in awe as I hiked the trail.

The eye-catching greens and fairytale-like setting of this part of Mount Dulang-Dulang swept me into bliss.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

And all my troubles and worries began to fade.

Don’t get me wrong.

It was still a challenging and butt-kicking walk with nature.

At least, my body was warm and ready for the uphill climb to Manny’s Garden and Mount Dulang-Dulang summit.

Soon after, we arrived at Alanib River where we took a short breather and refilled our water bottles.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

As we were resting, one of our guides told us to rest and refuel because the next part of the hike would be rough.


He said it might feel like a never-ending uphill climb.

Day 1 at 10:12 AM

He was right.

The uphill climb felt never-ending.

Nevertheless, I didn’t take long breaks in this section.

In fact, my pace improved and I felt I was getting closer to Manny’s Garden.

The secret technique?

Taking smaller steps. 

It takes less energy to do that.

And it recruits fewer muscle fibers, meaning lower oxygen requirements for your muscles.

Furthermore, it gives better stability than taking long strides and big upward steps.

Hike smarter, not hustle harder.

I may no longer be the dynamic, active, and strong hiker I once was.

But I have the experience and knowledge to survive any hike and the outdoors.

And here’s another thing about being old.

Some brash and young hikers mock us, older people, saying our legs are weak and clunky.

But do they know that the gift of youth doesn’t last?

Do they know that it’s their eventuality?

Maybe, they’re hoping to find the fountain of youth.

Or, they might think scientists will soon discover ground-breaking solutions to reverse aging.

Things don’t work that way, though.

We’re not in a sci-fi movie and we don’t have a ticket to Neverland.

Day 1 at 11:00 AM

Moments later, I caught up with porters who were taking a break from the non-stop climb.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

Eventually, three hikers of the group arrived at the spot where we took a break.

Everything seemed fine until I suddenly noticed something.

Slowly, I could sense tightness throughout my body because of the cold weather.

And that’s not all.

Even with gloves, my fingers felt freezing cold.

I thought the low temperature was caused by the LPA.

But the guides said it’s always like this in Mount Dulang-Dulang.

As Filipinos, we don’t like getting direct exposure to the sun.

But, it was one of those moments when I wished I was hiking on an open trail with direct sun exposure.

Suddenly, my right thigh tightened and contracted.

I stood up, stretched, and began walking gingerly.

Thankfully, the muscle spasm and tightness faded away.

On the way up, I decided not to take a break.

And if I do take a break, it should be less than a minute.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

The cold weather was starting to be a pain in the ass, and the only way to keep my body warm was to keep moving.

A jacket would be excellent, but I don’t like hiking uphill with it.

Along the way, I saw signs suggesting I was getting close to Manny’s Garden and the summit.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

I was tired, thirsty, and hungry.

My throat felt dry because of stress, coughing, and lack of sleep.

And my inner demons?

They were having a field day tormenting me with doubts and anxious thoughts.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

But there’s an antidote to these inner demons: humor.

We, Filipinos, use humor and creativity to cope with challenging situations.

This approach lightens the burden of difficulties and fosters a sense of community and shared experience.

Unfortunately, I was all alone on my way to Manny’s Garden in Mount Dulang-Dulang.

Day 1 at 12:37 PM: Manny’s Garden

With a slow and steady pace, I finally arrived at Manny’s Garden, a campsite in Mount Dulang-Dulang.

The porters were also there, taking a break from their climb.

Hungry and tired, I quickly opened my bag and ate my lunch.

Eventually, the porters left, and I was once again alone.

So, I wandered around the campsite, nicknamed “ a city of fairies”, and admired its striking beauty.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

And it was ethereal, heavenly, and magical.

It felt like I was transported into a different dimension.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

Manny’s Garden looked like a page from a fairy tale book.

The pristine and surreal beauty of Manny’s Garden captivated my soul.

What’s more, I was amazed by the Crown Shyness Phenomenon, a one-of-a-kind feature wherein the towering trees don’t touch each other.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

Then, the other hikers arrived, and we began our journey to the summit of Mount Dulang-Dulang.

Day 1 at 1:38 PM: The hike to the summit

It was getting colder, and though it was still early, I felt compelled to hike to the summit.

So, we hit the trail that would lead us to the top of D2.

Along the way, we made a pit stop at the nearby water source to refill our bottles.

And then, it became an action-packed uphill climb with several obstacle courses.

In some parts, I had to be an acrobat and a ninja.

I had to crawl, jump, and even use my upper body to pull myself over a stumbling block.

There was even a tough section where I had to climb a vertical wall.

Ultimately, I found out that there was an easier way.


I kept on climbing and hiking until I could hear voices.

Then, I was greeted by the sight of a tent pitched perfectly in one of the flat areas at the summit of Mount Dulang-Dulang.

I breathed a sigh of relief and high-fived myself.

I didn’t waste any time and quickly pitched my tent, so I could rest and recover from the hard-nosed climb.

I spent the whole afternoon inside my tent, chilling, stretching, and reliving the moments of our Mount Dulang-Dulang adventure.

Day 1 at 5:18 PM: Mount Dulang-Dulang viewing deck

I stepped outside the tent and went directly to the viewing deck of Mount Dulang-Dulang.

There, I found Rome, one of the hikers of the team, sitting, waiting for a spectacular view.

And the view looked like a piece of bond paper.

The landscapes were all covered in a white blanket.

Still, I had to take a photo of it.

Now, I know it looks like a passport photo with a white background on it.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

But I still loved it.

We sat down and talked about our adventures and the mountains we wanted to climb.

While waiting, a glimmer of hope appeared.

The beauty of the Kitanglad range and Mount Dulang-Dulang slowly appeared.

Maybe this was a positive sign.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

Perhaps we’d be treated to an awe-inspiring view the following day.

All we could do was hope.

Day 2 at 04:00 AM

I woke up early, hoping to witness a grand and majestic sunrise from Mount Dulang-Dulang.

Without wasting any moment, we took the short walk to the viewing deck of D2.

Optimistic and hopeful, we waited patiently for the sun to appear.

And boy, it was a jaw-dropping sight.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain
Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

The emerging sun and magnificent sea of clouds left us in awe.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

We spent a lot of time snapping pictures and just admiring its sublime beauty.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

And the view was worth it.

My happy hormones were spiking, and all my stress melted away.

I lived in the moment and soaked up the beauty of Mount Dulang-Dulang.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

And I was glad to take this journey despite all the challenges and hurdles.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

Afterward, the sight of another iconic mountain in Bukidnon appeared: Mount Kitanglad. 

I looked at Mount Kitanglad and was immediately enticed by its beauty. 

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

I wondered when I would have the chance to climb the 4th tallest mountain in the Philippines. 

Will it be a couple of years from now?

A few months?

Maybe, it will be days from this day. 

I don’t know the answers to these questions. 

All I know is I’ll do it whenever the opportunity arises.

If you have the chance to do something you want, do it now. 

Don’t wait for another chance. 

You may never have that opportunity again. 

Life, like our adventures, is unpredictable.

And you’ll never be this young again. 

Remember, there are no rewinds in life. 

We only have flashbacks. 

From the view deck, we went to the famed “Avatar Mossy Forest” of Mount Dulang-Dulang.

Somehow, this forest reminded me of my hike in Mount Apo via Bansalan and Magpet.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

It was gorgeous, to say the least.

The atmosphere was divine and glorious.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

As cliche as it may sound, it felt like we were transported to the land of fairy tales.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

Day 2 at 08:47 AM

We returned to our campsite, where we had a feast for breakfast.

I got to say it was hearty and mouth-watering.

Mount Dulang-Dulang: A Climb To The Enchanting Mountain

One of the things I love about Boundless Adventure Tours is they take care of their guests.

From the food to transportation, everything is perfect with this organizer.

And the best part?

They treat you like their friends and family.

There’s never a dull moment with them.

After breakfast, we began our descent to the base of Mount Dulang-Dulang.

I know getting down is easier.

But there was another challenge coming.

Day 2 at 3:01 PM: Tourism Center of Mount Dulang-Dulang

Fresh from a refreshing shower, I prepared my bags for my 10:25 PM flight.

I was a bit worried.

Davao is hours away from Bukidnon, and some hikers have yet to arrive.

Afterward, I saw sir JM and told him about my flight.

He, Ma’am Amor, and Russel did everything that day to ensure I boarded that plane.

Even the joiners did their part to help me catch my flight.

And I really appreciate their efforts.

Once everyone was ready, we didn’t waste time and took the long drive to Davao.

I checked the next flights to Cebu, and they were ridiculously expensive.

So, I breathe deeply, trying to eliminate my anxiety.

Just trust the process.

There’s a reason for everything.

If I missed that flight, there might be a good reason.

Day 2 at 09:35 PM

Upon our arrival at Jollibee Ulas, the team hastily moved to help me catch my flight.

From Jollibee Ulas, I took a taxi cab to Davao International Airport.

Even though there was no traffic, I was still anxious, constantly monitoring the time.

Day 2 at 10:01 PM

Forget being a gentleman!

I was a little rude and inconsiderate at the airport.

I had to prioritize myself and move fast.

Otherwise, I’d have missed this flight.

I could hear the airport announcers calling my name.

After a series of X-rays and security checks, I went directly to the boarding gate and ran like a gazelle.

My throat was dry, and my legs were tired, but I ran like Usain Bolt, hoping to catch my flight.

And it was just as exhilarating and heart-pounding as my climb to the top of Mount Dulang-Dulang.

Luckily, I still made it in time.

I must say it was quite an adventure.

Three weeks later

I thought Mount Dulang-Dulang was my last climb in 2023.

But I was wrong.

Whenever an opportunity arises, I always grab it.

While scrolling through Facebook, I found an organized day hike to Mount Kitanglad

Mount Kitanglad

And as you might have guessed, I didn’t let it pass by.

This time, though, I spent a night in Davao.

Yes folks, I’ve learned my lesson.

Where is Mount Dulang-Dulang 

Mount Dulang-Dulang is nestled in Lantapan, Bukidnon.

How do I get to Mount Dulang-Dulang?

The easiest and most convenient way to get to Mount Dulang-Dulang is to join an organized hike. If you prefer to go with this route, I recommend Boundless Adventure Tours.

How tall is Mt Dulang Dulang?

Mount Dulang-Dulang has an elevation of 2,941 meters above sea level. It’s the second-tallest mountain in the Philippines.

How long does it take to climb Mt Dulang-Dulang?

From Lantapan, it takes 2 days to complete a hike to Mount Dulang-Dulang. However, it’s possible to complete this hike in one day. There are many organizers offering day hikes to Mount Dulang-Dulang.

Sample Mount Dulang-Dulang itinerary from Davao

Day 0 

  • 10:00 AM: Meetup at Jollibee Ulas
  • 11:00 AM: Early Lunch
  • 11:30 AM: ETD to VALENCIA
  • 3:00 PM: ETA at VALENCIA (Last Buy Supply and Buy your Dinner)
  • 03:30 PM: Travel to head guide’s house and homestay for rituals and orientation
  • 04:30 PM: Orientation and rituals 
  • 05:30 PM: Prepare for dinner
  • 06:00 PM: Dinner
  • 09:00 PM: Lights-off

Day 1

  • 04:00 AM: Wake-up call (Prepare)
  • 05:00 AM: Start hike (Breakfast Along The Trail)
  • 11:30 AM: Alanib River, lunch (Pack)
  • 12:00: PM: Start trek to Manny’s Garden
  • 02:00 PM: Manny’s Garden (Start hike to peak)
  • 03:30 PM: ETA D2 Summit
  • 07:00 PM: Dinner
  • 08:00 PM: Socials
  • 10:00 PM: Lights off

Day 2

  • 05:00 AM: Wake-up call
  • 05:30 AM: Enjoy Sunrise at The Summit
  • 07:00 AM: Breakfast (Hosted)
  • 09:00 AM: Start descent
  • 02:00 PM: Jump-off Head guide’s house, lunch (PACK)
  • 03:00 PM: Homebound
  • 07:00 PM: ETA Davao City

Aldrich Infantado is a travel junkie and a writing aficionado who loves to share amazing travel tips to his fellow travelers.

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